Leave the Reno area and drive south to Carson City. Take Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe. En route, you will see the snow-covered peaks (at times) and the quiet mountain glens with the golden leaves of the shimmering Quaking Aspen groves dotting the mountainsides.
As you reach the sight of Lake Tahoe you may see the cross on Mount Tallac if there is enough snow to outline it on the side of that glorious mountain. You could stop in South Lake Tahoe and have breakfast at one of the many eateries.
Continue on to the ‘Y’ at South Lake Tahoe. Go right about five miles to the Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber. The walkways are paved and the cost is free. You’ll see the Kokanee salmon on their annual spawning run. The stream profile chamber gives you a fish-eye view of what the spawning run looks like underwater. This is truly nature at its purest. Some years the spawn is almost overwhelming in its size and other years it’s very sparse, but it’s always interesting. The total walk is about a quarter-mile long and is an easy walk.
After the adventure of the Stream Profile Chamber, head back toward South Lake Tahoe. Stay on Highway 50 and head to Placerville. After winding through the many colored glens you will arrive just short of Placerville at Apple Hill. On weekends, there is no problem in finding Apple Hill as the traffic will be the clue that you have arrived. Although traffic is heavy, it moves rather quickly and everyone is out for fun rather than blood so you can tolerate the vehicular snarl.
There are fields where everyone can pick their own pumpkin to turn into a Jack-O-Lantern. They are usually sold based on the height of the pumpkin rather than by their weight. After gathering just the right pumpkin, continue on to the various venues to gather the apple products that are available. Fresh apples of all kinds abound. Apple pies, apple fritters, apple cider, apple butter and, of course, recipe books that include the how-to in making all the goodies at home later.
Of course, there are numerous craft items for sale. One venue has a train that everyone enjoys riding. In short, if you come away bored there is no hope for you at all. After a truly fun outing, it’s hard to force yourself to make the drive home in the late afternoon, but it will have been a fun and memorable day for all. Who knows? It may be the start of an annual tradition for many years to come.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at lawilson16@ aol.com.